Thursday, July 14, 2016

Poems for July 20

Experience by Carl Sandburg, 1878 - 1967

How do you phrase the question, "What are you waiting for?" How do you answer it? What kind of map do you consider? What choices come up in the archeology of your emotions? What beckons us to read someone else's script?
These poems should get some discussion on these matters, started.

Discussion points:
Ferlinghetti: Oh to be able to write in such a lucid, engaging manner! Strong points made without sounding academic; repetitions of first and final lines of each segment spooling indeed, a sense of constant "re-birth". His points are serious, but the style so much fun, with such original and creative juxtapositions. Although the poem was written in the 50's, it is as fresh and universal now (and pertinent to our current climate) as then. To paraphrase Bernie, reading him is like listening to colored beads tell a story as they run effortlessly through the fingers. We spent some time discussing "what America did to Tom Sawyer -- Judith brought up how Tom is not such an amusing character in Huckleberry Finn but on the road to becoming a "slimy politician". Perhaps the spirit of an insouciant boy, curious, conniving has disappeared in America... or perhaps Tom is representative of what happens to young people in America...

In contrast, the Sandburg was lacking in sonic enjoyment, and seemed old-fashioned and stiff. The conceit of relying on maps, not understood/created through one's own experience, is good, but to paraphrase Judith, "Sandburg "settled too complacently into prairie philosopher prophet – all marshmallowy."

The third poem, I was intrigued if the specificity of Bleecker Street was necessary for understanding the poem -- and certainly, it is enriching to hear more about it from people who know NYC. The weaving of contemporary with historical details, had a dissonant feel peppered with questions, quite opposite from Ferlinghetti's easy-going style. The Unamuno quote “self-love widens into love of all that lives.” re-appearing as the final line allowed a discussion of the "equilibrium" between these two poles. To cite example: "perhaps" introduced into long questions:
"Perhaps everyone secretly admires
something momentous about himself,
with the mass and “inner life” of a cathedral,
who cherished the bliss of infinite sacrifice?
Perhaps this street remembers the loneliness
of war widows, the roll calls of absent names,
its first kisses on the corner of West Tenth Street,
the swooning confetti heat of victory,
the scalding springs of defeat?

The final poem entitled Script captures the arbitrary doom that could happen to anyone -- and worse, not just an anonymous selection but kin could become agent to murder kin. A very Kafka-esque nightmare. The final word, "alone" resonates with a clang of iron I imagine the gates of hell could produce when slammed shut.

Perhaps it is good that Bernie reminded us last week that the end, is not final... ( interview between Leath Tonino and Craig Childs, whose last book is Your last book was titled Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth.

just as Ferlinghetti says -- I'm waiting... and another re-birth appears...

Bernie’s reference from last week’s discussion…
Since that last poem was rather depressing and we finished by 1:10 or so, I shared today’s writer’s almanac poem — as a more uplifting send-off.
Here In The Psalm, by Sally Fisher

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